MACEDONIA CEMETERY (Johns Creek, GA)

LATEST MACEDONIA NEWS

Click image to see a before and after photo of headstone restoration
Headstone of April Waters, born into slavery
Headstone of R.L. Parsons, born 1869
Headstone of Laura Ousley, born into slavery
Headstone of Reuben Chandler, born into slavery

May 1, 2021: Progress Made Restoring Grave Markers! Thanks to donations from individuals and funds raised by Student Leadership Johns Creek, the historical society has been able to have 12 headstones and several footstones repaired and reset. They now are restored and standing straight, preventing further damage and properly honoring those buried.

  1. April Waters (1845-1910)
  2. R.L. Parsons (1869-1923)
  3. Laura Ousley (1950-1900)
  4. Hellen Ousley (1905-1911), child
  5. Reuben Chandler (1848-1893), oldest grave marker
  6. Susie Howell (c1873-1910)
  7. Robert Ousley (c1848-1932)
  8. Katie Chatham (1882-1918)
  9. Carrie Baker (c1860-c1945)
  10. Robery Ousley (1881-1914)
  11. J.M. Parsons (c1873-1938)
  12. concrete marker

November 16, 2020: Johns Creek City Council unanimously approved the acquisition of the historic Macedonia Cemetery property, a small abandoned African-American burial ground of several known slaves and the first and second generation descendants of others enslaved in this area. Previously, the city had a maintenance easement, but the ownership of the abandoned propety was in limbo.

The Historical Society has worked over the past several years to build community interest, awareness, and engagement in the site's history and potential, to repair broken gravestones, and identify those buried at the cemetery. We welcome the City's action to invest in this historic site and look forward to continuing to partner with them on this project.

Under the City's ownership, this historic property has potential to be a memorial to those buried there and also to be a green space of peace and contemplation for today's residents.

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021
A Macedonia Cemetery Informational Webinar was p
resented by Student Leadership Johns Creek with panelists from the Johns Creek Historical Society, Johns Creek City Council, and JC CVB.
Our thanks to the students of Student Leadership Johns Creek
for bringing awareness to the cemetery and for raising funds for its preservation.

THE CEMETERY

Hidden up a steep winding driveway near one of the busiest intersections in the City of Johns Creek, Georgia is a small African-American cemetery. The Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery (also known as Warsaw AME cemetery) is known to be the burial place of at least two who were enslaved and others who were first and second generation descendants of slaves on local farms. The cemetery has been abandoned for years and is in need of headstone repairs, identification of unmarked graves, and research to learn about those buried on the site.

The Johns Creek Historical Society involvement- Several years ago, the Johns Creek Historical Society took on the project of preserving and improving the cemetery by working with the City and by researching those buried at the site. This project is led by Board Member Kirk Canaday.

Our efforts follow those of others. In 1998, the Warsaw Historic Preservation Society was formed and through their efforts, Fulton County obtained a maintenance easement to the property. The group also tried to have an overlay historic district formed for the area surrounding the intersection of Medlock and State Bridge roads. In 2016, Preserve Johns Creek contracted an archaeological survey by New South Associates that mapped marked graves and potential unmarked graves.

Marked graves and probable grave sites. Section of map from New South Assoc. 2017 report contracted by Preserve Johns Creek

HOW MANY ARE BURIED THERE and WHO ARE THEY?

We are still working on finding answers to those questions. A survey performed in 2016 by New South Associates identified 24 marked graves, an additional 81 potential unmarked graves, and 9 isolated markers. That survey indicates 105-114 graves.

Over 60 people buried at the site have now been identified by the Johns Creek Historical Society by researching death certificates, obituaries, and making survey visits to the cemetery. Work to identify the others is continuing, although we realize many will remain unknown.

The earliest marked grave belongs to Reuben Chandler (1893) and the most recent belongs to Massie K. Jones (1988).

As names have been identified, genealogy research has begun. That research is starting to show relationships between those buried on the site and insight into the life they led. A few stories are emerging including a young couple that died of influenza within days of each other during the last pandemic in 1919 and of the Ousleys, all descended from a Kentucky slave, a wedding gift, brought by the newlyweds to a farm along our stretch of Old Alabama Road.

April Waters is one of the documented slaves buried at Macedonia. The original story of April Waters, first published in 1997, has been studied and corrected based on official records. April was definitely one of local landowner George Waters slaves, but was not one of those freed in his will. Further, April, thought to be a female slave, was in fact male. Recently, the Johns Creek Historical Society worked to have April's headstone returned to the cemetery and a donation from Lou Ann Lebovitz paid for it to be reset at his grave.


Bailey marker advertising Murdaugh funeral home and marking Howard Ousley's grave

THE GRAVE MARKERS

The cemetery has been abandoned for years and remaining headstones are in need of repair. Grave markers are simple. Some are Georgia Marble, a few granite.

The real treasures are the Bailey markers. Elder Bailey made markers for African American funeral homes in Atlanta. The markers were cast in cement with text hand inscribed. They were meant to be a way to mark a grave inexpensively and advertise the funeral home at the same time. Each marker has the name of the funeral home above the name of the person buried. Today, Bailey markers are considered works of art, a precious cultural artifact.

Repairing broken and fallen headstones. The Johns Creek Historical Society has already paid for eight headstone repairs with received donations and is requesting additional donations. We are partnering with Student Leadership Johns Creek who have chosen to make fundraising for cemetery improvements one of their projects.

Read how to help and see photos of the restoration of headstones below.


We're looking for those who might remember or have been a member of the Macedonia (Warsaw AME) Church. If you have information or memories of the Macedonia Cemetery and those buried there or its church, members, and pastors, please contact us.

info@johnscreekhistory.org

THE CHURCH

The Macedonia African Methodist Church was also known as the Warsaw AME Church. The church building was a one room structure, similar in style to others built in the area during the last half of the 1800s. Abandoned and in bad shape, it was torn down by Fulton County around 2001. It appears in a 1999 aerial photo but is missing in a 2002 aerial photo. The exact location of the church is being studied, but it was west of the cemetery, facing Medlock Bridge Road on the 2-acre property recently approved for acquisition by the City Council..

Help fund restoration and repair of headstones

There are more headstones at the Macedonia Cemetery in need of repair. Help by making a donation!

Online: donate by PayPal or credit card here (in the comment line, specify the Macedonia Cemetery).

By Check and Mail

Make checks to:
Johns Creek Historical Society
11877 Douglas Road, Ste 102-295
Johns Creek, GA 30005

(specify the Macedonia Cemetery on your check)

MACEDONIA CEMETERY
in the NEWS
More media coverage about the Macedonia Cemetery

JOHNS CREEK HISTORICAL SOCIETY PROJECT: Improving Historic Macedonia Cemetery


Headstone Repairs: Thanks to donations and the efforts of Kirk Canaday, one of our historical society board members, repairs have started at Macedonia Cemetery.

Chaunce Braun, who has performed headstone repairs at Old Roswell, Oakland, and other area cemeteries, made repairs to the broken R. L. Parsons (1869-1923) headstone, and reseated both that headstone and the April Waters (a known slave in this area), headstone.

View a video of Chaunce in his workshop making the repair to the R.L. Parsons headstone https://youtu.be/-LO-lCcOBSA

 

Leveling of the receivers (top left). The headstones of April Waters and R.L. Parson once again standing over their graves (top right). Chaunce Braun, Kirk Canaday, and Lou Ann Lebovitz evaluating other headstones that need repair (bottom).